In my previous blog in the Together, Leading Ahead series, I detailed Mint’s approach to creating process efficiency without compromising on personal growth or career development. In the next installment of the series, I am taking a look at how Mint is building alliances based on a solid foundation geared towards mutual success.
Firstly, what constitutes a mutually beneficial alliance or partnership? Strictly speaking, and as the term ‘mutually beneficial’ suggests, most people would describe it as a win-win relationship. At Mint UK, we prefer the concept of ‘winning together’ because, in our minds, a win-win scenario still indicates some level of compromise, but if we are winning with each other, we are collaborating to leverage our individual strengths and the outcome is almost always better for everyone.
So, let’s look at some of the components that build a firm footing for alliances and partnerships.
It all starts with the right intent
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Base your strategic alliances on a common intent. But, how do we unearth true intent when understanding and communicating intent is rarely given much importance in business today?
A company’s goals, mission or vision may be widely shared on every available platform and forum, but leadership sometimes forgets that if the intent of these plans isn’t aligned with the message, people may be impressed, but at a fundamental level, they will not believe in those plans or act on them. This means that the hard conversations need to be had up front, not when things start to go wrong.
The same applies when forging an alliance – a shared intent needs to be communicated, agreed, and held at the center of everything we do together. This means that you don’t have to own the whole value chain. If you create alliances with businesses that think the same way as you do but have different strengths, you can specialize, profitably, in the areas that you are good at.
I often say that a contract is only there to document the intent of the parties in the event that the people who signed the contract are no longer there. Mint’s alliance with IQ Business Group (IQBG) bears testimony to this. We pursue alliances that support us in creating a better tomorrow. They are not short-term, instant gratification, hit-and-run relationships, but rather strategic unions based on a mutual intent.
IQBG is a leading provider of Records and Information Management Solutions for the Public Sector and Highly Regulated Industries. The company believes that its partnerships allow them to deliver class-leading technology, with a team that knows how best to utilize it.
“Finding good business partners is critical to the success of growing businesses. Just like personal relationships, successful business relationships are based on what partners have in common,” explains Eric Wadsworth, IQBG Chairman and CEO.
Aligning to your values
History has taught us that strategic alliances are a powerful way to better serve your customers, grow your revenue streams, and expand your business. As an example of the potency of partnership, in Microsoft’s first two years of their co-seller partner program, they generated $8 billion in partner revenue.
Common values, or agreeing to a set of core values, are essential for the future of these mutually beneficial alliances. They help to bridge differences in organizational cultures, operating styles and revenue objectives.
Aligned values and a common intent are the quickest route to creating trust. And, let’s face it, trust is paramount to a successful alliance.
Constructing an alliance in a sustainable way
Assembling a partnership or alliance that has the potential to erode value for either party over a period of time should be avoided at all costs. Not only does an unhealthy alliance breed distrust between the parties, but it also filters out into the market and future strategic alliances may be cut short or not even considered as a result.
To illustrate this point, let me tell you about the Ubuntu EmpowerMint Program. Ubuntu EmpowerMint is a robust program with strategic initiatives designed to identify start-ups to drive them towards EMEs, and accelerate the development of EMEs to QSEs and ultimately to GENs (Generic Enterprises).
Our mission is to bridge the digital divide through ICT together with EMES and QSEs to create a better tomorrow for all.
The objective of this program is to cultivate the spirit of togetherness by empowering start-ups, EMEs and QSEs through investment, advisory and training to make a holistic contribution to the ICT sector of South Africa. Our program seeks to embrace transformation and empowerment opportunities to develop and grow our inclusive economy.
“We moved from an SMME to a QSE through our partnership with Mint. We are honored to partner with an organization that is passionate about community upliftment and the educational development and growth of others within the technology environment,” says Tebogo Motsaapheko, Managing Director of TAM Business Solutions and Ubuntu EmpowerMint Partner.
It is our intention to provide assistance to our partners in this program where it is most needed – whether it is sales advice, financial advice or delivery help. In this way, we are sharing our experience on how to become a larger Microsoft partner. This creates a sustainable model that allows Ubuntu EmpowerMint partners to plug into our entire ecosystem.
We are able to leverage the trust that we garner from this program to support all of our initiatives aimed at creating a better tomorrow – a cyclical, sustainable process that is improving so much more than our bottom line!
At its most basic, a strategic alliance is formed to take advantage of the synergies in the joint production. The absence of trust and the threat of conflicting values and intentions reduces the level of effort put forward by each of the partners and can ultimately erode the efficacy of the collaboration. If your whole value chain is heading in the same direction with a truly aligned intent, you have a far greater chance of mutual success.